Sustainable cod to hit supermarket shelves soon –

Sustainable cod to hit supermarket shelves soon Published:  13 February, 2006

THE Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) announced on Friday that the freezer longline Pacific cod fishery in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands off Alaska has become the first cod fishery in the world to obtain MSC certification as a sustainable and well-managed fishery.

Cod products from this fishery will now be entitled to carry the MSC eco-label on retail packaging and restaurant menus, making it easy for shoppers and diners to ask for the sustainable option.

Seattle-based Bering Select Seafoods Company, client for the certification, reports that it will begin deliveries of MSC-certified cod later this month, with the first delivery going to UK-based seafood company Young’s Bluecrest.

Rupert Howes, the MSC’s Chief Executive, commented on the certification: “The dwindling of Atlantic cod stocks has divided scientists and producers for a long time. With all the media coverage highlighting the issue, the public is increasingly concerned. Now, an independent assessment team has certified an alternative source, the Pacific cod freezer longline fishery. This puts consumers’ minds at ease as they can easily identify a sustainable source of their favourite fish.”

The Pacific cod freezer longline fishery has undergone a rigorous independent assessment to achieve its MSC certification. This examined the status of the fish stock, the impact fishing has on the marine environment and the effectiveness of the fishery management system. The assessment was undertaken by Scientific Certification Systems, Inc. (SCS) of Emeryville, California.

The fishery is currently composed of 39 vessels, harvesting a total of approximately 116,000 metric tonnes of Pacific cod off the coast of Alaska in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands during 2005. The fish is marketed primarily in Europe and Japan, with additional customers in the US, Thailand and China.

“With several Atlantic cod fisheries under pressure to reduce harvests, we are seeing strong demand and firm prices for longline-caught Pacific cod,” said Paul Gilliland, managing director of Bering Select. “We are dedicated to the principles of the MSC and we are excited to play a part in bringing informed choices in seafood buying to the marketplace. Six vessels have already signed up to participate in the MSC certification program for this fishery, and we believe the current level of demand will result in an additional 10 to 20 freezer longliners producing MSC-certified Pacific cod over the next year. Future growth is possible as consumers weigh in at fish counters in key markets.”

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